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Severson wins secretary of state nod over Howe

Former Sen. John Howe of Red Wing speaks at the Republican convention in Rochester on Friday.

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Minnesota Republicans did not need to wait to find out who won their secretary of state endorsement.

All they needed to do was see reactions state convention delegates had after the two candidates delivered their speeches.

Former state Sen. John Howe of Red Wing stood in the back of the Mayo Convention Center Civic Center by himself, few delegates talking to him.

Former state Rep. Dan Severson of Sauk Rapids stood nearby, with a solid line of Republican activists waiting to shake his hand.

A couple of hours after ballots were handed out, Howe went on stage to withdraw his name, an indication that Severson had won.

Severson, whose daughter nominated him, declared to the convention: "Minnesota has a corrupt election system."

"We need a conservative secretary of state," Severson told delegates.

The former Air Force fighter pilot talked about helping refugees in Minnesota get involved in business.

Severson lost to current Secretary of State Mark Ritchie in 2010 and failed to get the Republican U.S. Senate nomination two years ago.

Ritchie set off a race for his office when he announced last year that he would not seek a third term.

Howe told delegates they should not focus on selling the concept of requiring voter identification if they want to win elections. That is a major Republican-supported issue.

"If I am the next secretary of state, you will not be able to cheat and still keep your seat," Howe said.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.